|Title:||Roslyn Watson - Dancer and Choreographer|
|Keywords:||Aboriginal peoples, ballet, choreography, David Gulpilil, Australian Dance Theatre, Murri Dance Company|
|Record creator:||Australian Information Service, Canberra|
This black-and-white photograph shows Roslyn Watson, an Indigenous Australian dancer, choreographer and teacher of international renown. She is pictured seated in her room at the Australian Dance Theatre, brushing her hair and looking up at Jonathan Taylor, Artistic Director of the Australian Dance Theatre.
By 1980, Roslyn Watson (1954–) had established an international reputation as a professional dancer. She was the first Indigenous student to train as a classical ballet dancer at the Australian Ballet School, graduating in 1972. She went on to perform with the Dance Company (NSW), Dance Theatre of Harlem, Queensland Ballet Company, Australian Dance Theatre in Adelaide and the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre in Sydney.
Watson, who was born in Brisbane and is of Biri and Munginjarli descent, has helped to promote Indigenous identity through dance, along with other significant dancers such as Noel Tovey and Mary Miller. In 1973, for the Dance Company (NSW), she performed the Brolga myth with the now famous Indigenous dancer and actor, David Gulpilil. In 1977, she performed with the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre in the Third World Festival of Black Arts in Nigeria.
Watson learnt contemporary dance forms while studying at the Australian Ballet School. In the early 1980s she toured with the Australian Dance Theatre throughout South-East Asia and Europe, and performed at the Edinburgh Festival. In 1982, she became a tutor of contemporary dance to young Indigenous dancers at the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre in Sydney.
After 1981, partly to fulfil her desire to promote Indigenous Australian dance, Watson pursued her career independently of large companies. In 1982 she went to Paris, learned French, formed her own dance group called Company Brolga, and co-choreographed Voyages at the End of a Dream with Eric Sennen and Mark Baldwin. In 1991 she opened the Murri Dance Theatre in Brisbane, affirming her support for Indigenous dancers, and creating the solo piece Green Butterfly.
This photograph shows Watson engaged in conversation with Jonathan Taylor as she prepares for a dance performance. Watson's passion for dance emerged when she was young, taking formal ballet lessons at 10 years of age. With the support of her parents she won an Aboriginal Study Grant in 1970 to study classical ballet in Melbourne, which led to her selection as a student at the Australian Ballet School.
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